With the auto industry in peril, manufacturers are trimming their lineups and looking for federal help. At the moment, many analysts say no one is on thinner ice than Chrysler. The White House has given Chrysler until May 1 to complete a merger with Italian automaker Fiat. If that doesn't happen, the Big Three automaker will face the withdrawal of federal funds - and will be forced to file for bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, some industry observers say General Motors isn't doing so hot either. Faced with an oversupply of unsold cars, the company is shutting down most of its manufacturing facilities for more than two months this summer - essentially cutting thousands of vehicles from production. GM also recently announced that it does not expect to build Hummers, Saabs and Saturns beyond 2009 and will phase out Pontiac by the end of 2010.
While we reserve judgment on whether or not the government should continue bailing out these distressed domestic manufacturers, we do think they could benefit from a little spring-cleaning. Because, let's face it, not every one of GM's and Chrysler's models deserves to be saved. Here are a few cars that the market probably won't miss:
The Chevrolet Aveo offers one of the best sticker prices in its segment. It's also spacious for a compact car and achieves good fuel economy. However, its good points come at a price. The Aveo's performance pales in comparison to sportier models from Honda or Mazda, and its list of safety features is lacking. Anti-lock brakes are just optional, and side curtain airbags aren't offered at all. In the first three months of 2009, Chevy sold 5,444 Aveos - a more than 55 percent drop from the same period in 2008.
The Pontiac G3 hasn't been on the market long - and we're not sure that it should be on the market at all. Essentially a rebadged Aveo, this five-door hatchback was supposed to give Pontiac a toehold in the small, fuel-efficient car market. Unfortunately, sales for the young G3 have been practically nonexistent. Pontiac sold 141 of the cars in March, and only 221 total since it's been on the market. That may be because the new G3 simply can't compete with such popular hatchbacks as the Honda Fit and Kia Rio5.
All new for 2009, the Dodge Journey is a midsize SUV that comes packed with family-friendly features for a very affordable price. It seeks to incorporate the practicality of an SUV with the comfort and driving experience of a car, all while avoiding the styling of a minivan. However, reviewers complain about the base engine's poor performance and cheap-feeling interior. What's even more troubling is the Journey's sheer number of recalls - a total of three in its short time on the market (two for the electrical system and one for the powertrain). The Journey may be selling well, but any more recalls and Dodge may want to take a hard look at whether the model needs to go back to the drawing board.
The Buick Lucerne is an old-school American sedan with a roomy interior and comfortable ride. But it comes with several downsides, including a huge turning radius, and a lack of engine power. At nearly $40,000, its price is also high for its class and sets it against entry-level luxury cars that offer more engine power and more entertaining rides. Throughout 2008, the Lucerne was one of the slowest-selling sedans in America. In the first three months of 2009, the Lucerne sold 6,420 units -- less than half of the units sold for the same period in 2008. Buick had originally scheduled an all-new model for 2010, but that car is now on hold, so 2009 may be the end of the line for the Lucerne.
Consider Instead: The Hyundai Genesis offers a more luxurious cabin and more power for about the same price. The Audi A4 and Acura TL also carry similar price tags but offer more refined rides and more updated technology.
The Compass is Jeep's first and only crossover vehicle. While it offers a smooth ride, it doesn't offer much else. It's widely criticized for its lack of trademark Jeep styling and off-road abilities as well as its poor materials quality. With so many other good crossover options on the market, there just isn't much of a place for a Jeep that can't even go off-road - even if it does boast good fuel economy. In 2009, the Compass has seen a huge sales decline. It sold 3,147 units for the first three months versus more than 10,000 units for the same period in 2008 - that's a nearly 70 percent drop in sales.